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Get Connected...Stay Connected

Who would have believed back in say 1995, that one day we could have a pocket-sized device that makes phone calls, accesses the internet, plays videos, gets e-mail from many accounts, takes pictures and organizes your life? What is this, Star Trek?

Why yes, this is Star Trek. Nearly.

This week I upgraded from my very handy $50 flip phone to a Blackberry Curve. Why? Because the past 10 days of travel convinced me there is a better way to stay in touch with people besides hoping you have wifi in an airport or a hotel room.

Oddly, the more expensive the hotel room, the more expensive and less reliable is the in-room internet service. The cheaper the hotel, the better the chances of free wi-fi. Makes no sense. Now when I am stuck in a non-cheap hotel, I can refrain from adding $12.95/day or more to my bill. In case you are wondering, medical conventions tend to be in nice hotels and it pays to be in the same hotel as all the action. Pushing a cart full of gear down a cobblestone hotel driveway at 6am in 100% humidity just to save a hundred bucks is not worth it.

Another inconsistency in travel is wifi in airports. My home airport of Bradley Field has free wifi. Same with Tampa, which was very useful during my 4 hour layover last week. Other places it ain't so. I recently received an e-mail survey from Southwest asking about paid internet service on flights. It seems they may offer in-flight wifi for $9.95. Might be useful on a cross-country jaunt, but most SWA flights are short hops. That may go over like the $2 can of soda already abandoned by other airlines.

My internet habit is pretty limited at present: Creative Cow, Digg (less so by the day), News, FB and of course e-mail. The Blackberry lets me do all of this without booting up a computer. Aside from sore thumbs, this will save time, save costs and save electricity. And if there is any truth to the effects of a warm laptop on one's lap, this may save the family jewels!

Well, I still need the laptop to write these blog posts, but the forums are easily accessible.

As discussed in an earlier post, I have linked up with all my old mates on the face book. One cannot turn on a tv news program or entertainment show without hearing about Twitter. It took me a while to wrap my brain around how Twitter is used and if it has any use to me. Turns out it is just another way to get connected to the world. If this blog and my other activities here on the COW are any indication, that can be a good thing. The more people who follow me are potential customers and/or colleagues. Just this morning I received a tweet from a fellow medical video guy in Norway. He keeps a blog about a lot of the same stuff that I do, and he read and posted a link to the article I wrote here on the COW.

This week I had to take a couple of days to recover from a nasty cold - probably from all that air travel. Between the Blackberry, web-mail and Thunderbird I was receiving e-mail in three places at once - a bit much mind you, but a good indication that not only am I connected - I might have over done it! But seriously, having a phone that also interacts with e-mail is brilliant indeed. Beam me up Scotty!

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Apr 3, 2009 at 5:11:48 pm blogs, networking, telecommunications

Social Networking Blog Post - It Had to be Done

Sorry, I could not come up with a clever title. It is what it is – a blog about social networking. There was a thread on the Business and Marketing Forum a while ago about using Social Networking for business - I think the jury is still out, but check out the thread.

The original social network – people in a room talking to each other – has been replaced with web-based "talking."

I recently had a chat with an old high school friend on the current popular soc-net site, we'll call it MugPamphlet(they know who they are and get plenty of press), and mentioned that I enjoyed talking to her. She replied that she never considered e-mail or chat a form of talking. LOL.

MugPamphlet had replaced MyArea (sic) as the king of social networking, that is, a web-based means of communicating with everyone you know in a more efficient manner. No doubt in a year or so a new soc-net site will emerge and the whole world will switch to that.

The cool aspect of the soc-net flavor of the month is finding old friends, not so much keeping in touch with current friends. Granted, in the world of social networking I am considered a geezer (over 30) so I have more old friends than current friends. However all of my electronic friends are people who I knew in person before "knowing them" electronically. This clearinghouse of electronic friends is more a convenience than anything meaningful. I would never sit down and send a "status update" via e-mail to everyone I "know." It is just nothing useful. Imagine if I sent a daily e-mail to everyone on my address book telling them what I am up to? Boring!

"What's that, there is such a service to send brief messages to everyone you know? Really? Who would want to use that? The President you say? Hmm, I'll look into that."

Rather, sites like MugPamphlet and its inevitable replacement, are ways to conveniently keep in touch with people you know, or in many cases, people you used to know. In my case it has not been a way to make new friends. Certainly you can see who your friends are friends with, but unlike in a room full of people eating weenies in blankets, I am reluctant to strike up a conversation with a friend of a friend without an introduction. People do it however. There is one guy on MugPamphlet who is friends with everyone working in production in New England. I've never met him but my buddy the boxing commentator says he's ok!

Posting photos for all to see is fun, and playing games is another way to pass the time. Oddly, I now e-mail immediate family on the currently popular site, rather than using traditional e-mail. In a way, this site is morphing into AOL – an all-in-one internet within the internet. Do not discount the usefulness of services like AOL – I met my wife on there! Useful indeed!!

Now let's switch to social networking that actually accomplishes something useful. I will coin a phrase: Useful Networking.

My favorite Useful Networking, or "UseNet" website, is of course this very site you are now reading, While the atmosphere is indeed social, and usually cordial ;) the interactions here on the COW are most often Useful.

Ring, Ring. Excuse me.

"Hello? Yes this is he. Mmm, hmm. Really? You don't say. Oh, I see. Ok, thanks for letting me know. Bu, bye."

Sorry for that interruption. I have just been informed that UseNet is an existing term, stemming from the original pre-world-wide-web function of the internet.

I shall have to revert to the more long-winded Useful Networking phrase. Is this what you kids call a MEME?

So while blogging and forum posting and article writing and tutorial reading on the COW is in fact some of the most useful time I spend online, it is remarkably social. While I have never known any of the other forum hosts, posters or bloggers "in real life," I consider these men and women my good friends. In many cases I have much more in common with my fellow COWs than with my old chums from high school and college. On social networking sites, once you get over the honeymoon phase of "Wow, Joe Smith, what rock have you been hiding under for the past 20 years" you are left with reading Joe's status updates such as "Ate hot dogs. They were great" or "Timmy used the big boy potty. Hooray!" Important, but not very useful.

On the other hand, while my COW friends I have only known for a short while, in most cases, everything they say is of utmost interest to me and to others.

In summary, Social Networking is not a new concept. Cave paintings and shamans telling stories around a campfire were certainly social gatherings, and once other tribes became involved, there was some rudimentary networking. I know I have just paraphrased the opening montage from Amazing Stories, but you get my point. Humans will always network with other humans, individuals and groups alike. Whether this happens in a room full of people or a website or some future thought-powered neural net, social networking will continue. And one day, decades from now, a bunch of like minded people will gather in a room eating weenies and wonder why nobody thought of networking in person before.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Mar 29, 2009 at 3:06:20 pmComments (1) social, networking, cow

I have a passion for my job, which entails training for medical professionals such as surgeons, nurses and administrators, not to mention various industries.

Technology is great, but how you apply your skills is what pays the bills.

Years ago I canceled my Media 100 support contract upon discovering what a treasure trove of helpful advice can be found on the Creative COW website. I am proud to be a part of this fantastic community.

In my blog I talk a little about media production, a lot about travel and workflow, and occasionally about cooking, nature and my four-legged friends.

Follow me on Twitter: med_ed_mike

I'm also on LinkedIn if you can't get enough of me!


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